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Did Holger Osieck tense up too much?

by Ben Somerford on Nov 18, 2011

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The latest Socceroos camp was a strange one, with boss Holger Osieck oddly tense and on-edge all week. His attitude had me asking 'where was the relaxed German who happily joked with reporters which we'd come to know?' Also, 'where was that fluid style from the Socceroos which took us to the 2011 Asian Cup final?'

They were the two noticeable changes from the latest fixtures, with Osieck anxious, while the Socceroos reverted to some 'long-ball rubbish'.

It wasn't pretty, far from it, but the job got done and Australia qualified for the final round of qualifiers.

Osieck's relief at getting the job done was blatantly obvious after the final whistle in Bangkok when he spoke with Fox Sports' Lara Pitt.

After a barrage of negative questions, the German said in response to being without key players in the next qualifier against Saudi Arabia in February: "We have to compensate, we are missing some guys who are performing well but it's February and in between it's Christmas so let's sink it now!"

The relief was obvious and it all made sense. Coming into this international break, Osieck must've expected to confirm qualification for the fourth round. The shock loss to Oman made the situation tense, as suddenly the German was pondering an unhappy three months before the next qualifier with pressure likely to mount on his shoulders. It'd hardly be an ideal way to enjoy his summer break.

Eventually, after an uninspired and unimaginative performance, Australia sneaked the result they needed in Bangkok. Osieck, rather than worry about the tripe just dished up, was beaming at the realisation he could enjoy his Christmas!

Fair enough, but Fox Sports commentators Mark Bosnich and Ange Postecoglou were both rather scathing of the performance against Thailand and rightfully so, as if the War Elephants had a bit of quality in their attacking third, it might've been a two-three goal defeat. Instead, the Thais spurned their chances, while Australia took theirs with Brett Holman the hero once again.

The performance has plenty of people worried about Australia's ambitions of progressing through the fourth round and on to Brazil 2014. After all, nothing less will be acceptable and on Tuesday's evidence, that's certainly no fait accompli.

But before the doomsayers move in, let’s reflect on the past week. The performance against Oman was poor in the first-half with complacency a factor, before it improved in the second 45. However it didn't get the result, compounding the pressure on Osieck for the Thailand game.

From that moment on, the German seemed tense, under pressure and ready to snap at reporters. It was a far cry from the affable chap who exuded a calm over the Socceroos camp.

In many respects, this nervous energy seemed to appear in the team's performance against Thailand, with the midfield continually turning over the ball and making the wrong decisions. But against an opponent ranked 114th in the world, Australia got away with it. But the critics won't let them off so lightly and rightfully so.

Osieck will enjoy the relief of being into the fourth round for the next few months, but lessons will need to be learned from the latest qualifiers.

And one of the big lessons could be for the boss himself, who let a bit of pressure get to him.